Top of the Plops: Plops of the Year 2020

This is the first use of this graphic at Christmas!
It’s number two, it’s Top of the Plops!

Welcome to this special edition of Top of the Plops in which current and ex-staff pick their favourite games or developers from the past year. 2020 has been a year of many up and downs, but it has also brought with it many gems and turds. Let us sift through the excrement as we uncover the Plops of the Year.

Final Fantasy VII Remake Part VII will be a confusing title, but is likely to happen.
Caspius has an obsession which cannot be cured.

Caspius: My Peak of the Plops for 2020 has to be Final Fantasy VII Remake, not so much because it is one of the greatest games I have ever played (it is exceptionally good, but not THE BEST), but because in terms of original releases that are of interest to me, 2020 was a pretty lacklustre year. There were some other really good titles, but they were mostly remasters, not even remakes, of good games from the past, such as Super Mario 3D All-Stars. There was also the release of the excellent Pokemon Shield and Sword DLC, in which I have invested literally hundreds of hours and still counting. But I cannot give my ‘game of the year’ pick to DLC, nor to a selection of old 3D platformers from past Nintendo consoles. My review of Final Fantasy VII Remake gave that game an A-grade, something which I was less assured of then than I am now, with my decision solidified as a result of my slow-burning desire to replay it so soon after having done so, which is something I only feel about games that I really like, such as the truly exceptional Dragon Quest XI. Although Final Fantasy VII Remake did not deliver on the game the way that I would have liked to see it done, and although I think my approach would have been both more respectful to the original material and a better game overall, there is still a great deal to be said for what they have done with the first chapter of their remake: it is an invigorating experience, albeit one that in no way obviates the need for the original. And, perhaps, that is best. For, if they had the made the kind of game that I would have liked, no one would ever have gone back to the original PS1 game–and that would have been a sad state of affairs, to be sure. Onward to 2021!

Waiting a week for a couple of lines of text. SNooB is lucky he replied otherwise this image would have been Hatsune Miku.
SNooB dreams of giant mechs.

SiliconNooB: I think I’m going to pick 13 Sentinels, as that was a really amazing game that deserves to be highlighted. This wasn’t an easy pick for me though, as Resident Evil 3 is also a really amazing action game that everyone loves to shit on for not being Resident Evil 2. Persona 5 Royal was also a factor in my calculations. The fact that they (Atlus/Sega) published my game of the year probably also makes them my publisher of the year by extension.

Nintendo have released ports of many older Mario games, maybe the Paper series is next?
Ethos has a love of paper.

Ethos: 2020 was a great year for me and video games. Many of them connected with me whether they came out this year or I played them for the first time this year. The Final Fantasy VII reimagining (branded as Remake) made more of an impression on me than I expected, but it was really Paper Mario: The Origami King that made the biggest impact. Like many fans, I felt like the series took a sharp downturn after the excellent Super Paper Mario, but The Origami King is a thoughtful, surprising, exciting, and understated masterpiece. The battle and progression systems are a turnoff for some with a mixture of legitimate and illegitimate criticism but its well-paced story and action kept me addicted from front and back. I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I got to the credits in the same week I bought it.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions - Art 01 - FEATURED
Imitanis wants to be a star.

Imitanis: It may seem like a cop-out to pick a developer rather than a game, but Atlus have released many of the titles I’ve enjoy this year. Persona 5 Royal, Tokyo Mirage Sessions, and Catherine: Full Body. Atlus also published 13 Sentinels, a fantastic Vanillaware title that I still need to put more time into. Of the games Atlus has published this year the Tokyo Mirage Sessions remake would be my favourite. I never bought it on the Wii U, so the Switch edition was my introduction to the game. I enjoy tinkering with game mechanics, and TMS ticked many boxes for me.

Ghost of Tsushima is SNooB approved!
Lane wants to be a samurai

Lane: My favorite game of the year was Ghost of Tsushima. It is historically inaccurate, culturally off-base, and very much a Westerner’s fantasy of Japan, but its devotion to the legacy of Kurosawa and chanbara films is earnest. With beautiful visuals, engaging combat, and a real sense of cinematic scope, it is a better Assassin’s Creed than Valhalla and a smarter action adventure game than God of War.

Final Fantasy VII Remake features quite prominently in many peoples lists this year.
Seb is chasing an obsession.

Seb: I have to give my favorite game of 2020 to the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Having low expectations cannot hurt, I suppose, but the game was so much better than I anticipated in every respect. Of course the graphics are outstanding (as is voice acting), but the gameplay – though I am not a fan of action RPGs, personally – was surprisingly addictive. It was mindlessly fun to slash away at the various monsters encountered throughout, and I had to employ some strategy against certain bosses. I do not love all of the changes to the original, and I will not attempt to re-review the game (the official TDT review is excellent), but it arrived at a time when I was confined to the house and provided many hours of enjoyment. (My wife and I ended up playing through it together twice, and I would still play it again when I have the time.)

Satifactory is almost a 3D Factorio, but lacks many QoL improvements.
Mel dreams of water-filled pipes.

Mel: Hello again, readers, how have you been these last, um, years? Horrible? Glad to hear it! Now, on to my choice of Plop for putting on the top. Few plops would fit toppest more than Coffee Stain Studios. Responsible for developing the wonderfully supported Early Access title Satisfactory and for publishing Deep Rock Galactic, which has exited Early Access this year, Coffee Stain’s recent catalog has not only provided me many multiplayer hours of fun with my friends (no small feat) but has done so with an open “no-crunch” commitment. Of course, I cannot verify they do not actually crunch. Maybe that is just marketing. Maybe I am an idiot! I will leave you with that to ponder.

Durga should also try the sequel, Far Cry New Dawn
Durga seeks the end of all things.

Durga: 2020 was not an amazing year for games, unfortunate with so many people spending extra time at home. That being said, there were definitely a couple of standout games that I had extra time to complete, though most were not released this year. The game that I had the best experience this year with was actually Far Cry 5, which came out in 2018. I had skipped the title completely at launch because it looked pretty ridiculous and the series as a whole had felt like it was slipping, but this one renewed my interest in the franchise and has me actually looking forward to the 6th numbered installment. The gameplay wasn’t all that different but the characters were pretty strong, and the story actually ended up being a lot deeper than it had any business being, with an ending that left me questioning things for a few days after completion. I definitely Recommend it to any fans of the open world FPS genre and would say it was my favorite game of the year!

Imitanis still needs to play the expansion packs. Gen 4 remake 2021 wink wink.
Brock desires to catch em’ all.

Brock: I do believe my favorite release of this year was the Pokémon SW/SH Expansion Pass. The Isle of Armor expanded on the success of the wild area while giving us many of my favorite Pokémon, some with new Gigantamax forms. The story around Kubfu and training him was fun as well. The better part was of course the Crown Tundra, I so much enjoyed the legendary adventures. Tracking down several legendaries and even being able to catch a mythic in the wild was very well done, and I hope the franchise will expand on that in the future. The beautifully rendered Zones made my experience very immersive. The Max Lairs are more fun than I originally thought they might be and was pleasantly surprised with it. The release of Dragonite, the final missing Pokémon of my favorite six was most welcome as well. I hope everyone enjoys their holiday season. Cheers!

Hades is an incredible game.
Reetin feels reborn.

Reetin: Hades is an excellent Roguelike based on Greek Mythology. It has tight controls with a variety of weapons to choose from. The soundtrack is also top-notch as it was created by Supergiant Games which has a track record of good soundtracks in their games. Playing it, as with any other Roguelike I tend to die a lot but, it makes me want to keep going, unlike a Dark Souls game.

Readers, what was you favourite game you played this year? Have any developer outdone themselves? Have any publishers sent us quality goods? Let us know in the comments!

9 comments

  1. Great feature, thanks for doing it, Imitanis! A game I also considered was Spiritfarer which was delightful from a concept and art standpoint and addicting and well-paced from a gameplay standpoint, but I decided that I should only really consider games that I got to the credits for. Ghost of Tsushima is a game that I definitely plan to buy once I can do so for $30 or less CAD.

  2. Nice to have some old team members pitch in again.

    The game I played the most, and meant the most to me this year, was Persona 5 (not Royal). I think I only played 4 actually new games that came out in 2020: Final Fantasy VII Remake, Trials of Mana, Shantae and the Seven Sirens, and Streets of Rage 4, all of which are good to great. But it was P5 (which I finally picked up again after putting it down several years ago when I started a new job) that most captured my attention and imagination.

  3. @Tanzenmatt – I got P5 close to when it came out as a gift to myself to help cope with a major breakup and I sunk deep into it, but I never beat it and now I’m in the depths of the final dungeon which spits me back out every time I try it again. I really love what I played, however. Just gotta decide when I’m going to dedicate a day to re-orienting myself to it.

  4. @Ethos: Spoiler alert – the ending is just a black screen with text “You have defeeted a Great Evil and proved yourself a Phantom Thief of true justice! Now go forth and plunder bravery!” Up to you I guess if you want to keep at it just for that.

    Honestly though, I don’t know how much time you’ve spent fusing personas, but I’d think you need to dedicate a day towards that before going back in the dungeon.

    It is funny how Persona games always show up around, or to help cope with major life events. I first started P3 when I was in my one semester of grad school, and it actually helped me take it more seriously and do things like join the student council for my department.

  5. I believe I didn’t buy a single game released this year. Majority of my purchases were after I aquired my Switch. So unless its FF 7/8, FF9, FF12, FF10/X2, Baldurs Gate. I think the only release that qualfys is Mario 3D all stars. Thats also a rerelease. I’ll try harder next year

  6. The games that came out this year that were the most engrossing for me were Hades, 13 Sentinels, and the Langrisser one and two remakes. Yakuza: Like a Dragon so far is pretty great also.

    Out of those I would give the edge to Hades. I initially wrote of the game but kept hearing good things and eventually got it. The game-play loop is fantastic, you are constantly unlocking new things that can completely change how you play the game and keeps it fresh unlike a lot of other Rougelike games. It also has a very fair and satisfying challenge to it and has a system you unlock where you can choose from a list of things to make it harder which keeps it fresh and enjoyable for longer.

  7. Thanks for your year-in-review plops! We’ve discussed your selections in TSM 618!

  8. @Tanzenmatt – I actually spent tons of time fusing personas and grinding in Momentos, so it’s more just the design of the dungeon and having absolutely no idea where to go and constantly going backwards that’s getting me too frustrated to beat it.

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